Tag Archive for broken streets

Morning Links: An open letter to David Ryu, Mar Vista CC is at it again, and motion could remove LA bike lanes

Dear Councilmember Ryu,

As a resident of LA’s 4th Council District, I have long been concerned about the risks that drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists face in our district.

One area of particular concern is 6th Street between Fairfax and La Brea. As you are no doubt aware, 6th is a two-lane street west of Fairfax, then becomes four lanes between Fairfax and La Brea.

Once it widens to two lanes in each direction, the character of the street changes dramatically. Speeds increase while drivers jockey for position, often shifting lanes without warning to go around stalled traffic or turning vehicles.

As a motorist, it is an unpleasant street to drive, and one requiring constant concentration. As a pedestrian, it is a difficult, and at times dangerous, street to cross. And someone who used to bicycle to Downtown when I lived in West LA, it was easily the most dangerous part of my commute.

This is borne out by the two pedestrian deaths and hundreds of crashes that have been recorded on the street over the last several years, as well as statistics showing 6th Street is three times as dangerous as the average LA arterial.

Fortunately, there is a proposal from LADOT which would address these issues by removing a traffic lane in each direction and adding a center left turn lane, with bike lanes on each side from Fairfax to Cochran.

Lane reductions like this have been shown to improve safety up to 47%, with an average of 30% improvement in cities across the US. Those same results have held true with previous road diet projects here in Los Angeles, as well.

Further, this is a project that has the full support of the surrounding community. The Mid-City West Community Council voted unanimously to back this project over a year ago.

Before you were elected to office, you told the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition that you start and end any decision with the community. In this case, the voice of the community is clear.

It is long past time to improve safety on this dangerous street. I urge you to immediately support this project as recommended by LADOT.

Sincerely,

Ted Rogers, BikinginLA.com

If you want to write in support of the proposed 6th Street road diet, send your email to [email protected], and CC [email protected][email protected], and [email protected]. You can find a brief sample email you can use as a template here (pdf).

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Mar Vista Community Council’s bizarre bike “safety” motions and efforts to roll back the Venice Great Streets project will be back on the table when the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee meets tonight.

Among the motions under consideration are one that would require bike “night lights,” even though front and rear bike lights and side reflectors are already required under state law for any bike ridden at night.

It would also require mandatory bike helmet use for all riders, regardless of age, even though that would conflict with existing state law, which means the city has no authority to mandate their use.

Another motion calls for restoring the two traffic lanes that were removed from Venice Blvd as part of the Great Streets Project by removing the center median, or placing a center bike path there. Both of which show a clear lack of understanding of traffic calming, as well as bikeway design.

Center medians are used to slow traffic and prevent unsafe left and U-turns, as well as head-on collisions with speeding drivers who cross the center line.

Meanwhile, center bikeways create multiple conflict points at every intersection, dramatically increasing the risk of injury collisions. Which is why existing median bikeway on Culver Blvd failed.

As alternative, they suggest restoring the traffic lanes by removing street parking, and replacing it with parking garages every three blocks — with no hint of where to put them or how to pay for it.

A final motion simply calls for removal of the entire Venice Great Streets project in order to restore three lanes in both directions.

Clearly, someone on the committee has a fixation with doing everything in their power to keep Venice Blvd dangerous. And at the same time, allowing traffic to continue destroying the fabric of the Mar Vista community, reverting back to a virtual highway to keep peak hour traffic flowing, with excess capacity the rest of the day.

All of which suggests a complete and total ignorance of state bike laws and traffic safety planning, as well as the benefits of road diets. Which is what happens when you put people in charge who have no idea what they’re talking about.

Instead of the misguided, illegal and impractical motions on the agenda, maybe they should replace them with a single motion requiring every member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to actually learn something about the subject.

If you can make it there tonight night, maybe you can try to explain it to them.

Thanks to N.E. Farnham for the heads-up.

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A new motion from the usually bike-friendly 12th CD Councilmember Mitch Englander (pdf) could potentially halt all new bike lanes in the city of Los Angeles, as well as rip out many existing lanes.

The motion comes in response to the latest city settlement with an injured bicyclist, as the LA city council voted to pay $7.5 million to a man who was left paralyzed from the neck down after hitting a ridge of pavement that had been lifted four inches by a tree root. And which the city had previously been warned about, but done nothing to fix.

Never mind the 17 other lawsuits that have been filed against the city by injured bike riders, or the relatives of those killed, this year alone. Many, if not most of whom, weren’t riding in bike lanes when they were injured.

Englander’s motion, which was seconded by the 2nd District’s Paul Krekorian, would require that new bike lanes only be installed on streets with a pavement quality grade of A. Which sounds good, until you consider that LA’s streets average a C plus.

So basically, new bike lanes could only go on new pavement.

To make matters worse, the motion calls for closing or removing bike lanes from any street with a pavement grade of B or lower. Which would mean most of the bike lanes in the City of Angels would be unceremoniously stripped off the pavement.

The practical result would be that people would still ride those same streets, and be subject to the same bad pavement, but without the separation from traffic that bike lanes provide. So any falls, or swerves to avoid cracks or potholes in the pavement, could be catastrophic.

And by removing a proven safety feature, the city’s exposure to liability could be exponentially higher when, not if, someone is injured on one of those streets.

The motion isn’t all bad, however.

The requirement that pavement quality on current bike lanes be inspected is something that should have been passed into law decades ago. As anyone who has ever ridden the 7th Street bike lanes leading to and in DTLA can attest.

And pavement quality should be considered before installing new bike lanes, rather than just slapping paint down on failing streets, as has been the practice in the past.

If the motion advances, which is not a given, it must be amended to so that only the bike lane would be required to have an A grade, which would allow just that portion of the roadway to be patched or repaved to bring it up to code, rather than the entire street.

Although that would give drivers one more reason to hate us.

And the misguided requirement that existing bike lanes be closed or removed should be stricken, period.

Thanks to T.J. Knight for the tip.

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In what they describe as a win-win for everyone, the San Diego State University Police Department has teamed with the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), the San Diego County Bicycling Coalition and Cycle Quest Bicycle Store to fight bike theft.

The groups worked together to register 150 bicycles with the university’s bike registration program, which is open to students, faculty and staff. Everyone who registered their received a free Kryptonite lock and mount, as well as free bike repair, and bike lights and literature from the SDCBC.

Which is almost enough to make me want to go back to college.

Including these 150 bikes, the university has registered 476 bikes so far this year, ensuring that the information will be available if anything should happen to the bikes.

They report that 81 bikes have been reported stolen since the first of the year, most of which were secured by just a thin cable lock or locked to the rack by the front wheel alone.

And yes, they also instruct students on how to lock their bikes properly when they register them.

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VeloNews considers how the Vuelta became cycling’s most dramatic grand tour.

Like father, like sons. A Lithuanian cyclist has been suspended following a positive drug test, 15 years after his father tested positive for EPO after finishing third in the 2002 Tour de France, and just months after his brother died as a result of suspected doping.

Spain’s Samuel Sanchez got fired from the BMC team after his B sample confirmed his positive doping test prior to the Vuelta.  But really, the doping era is over, right?

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Local

Everyone has an opinion about the proposed restoration of the Ballona Wetlands. Including an environmental advocate who says reversing the Playa del Rey road diets will mean more roadkill. Hopefully, she doesn’t mean us.

Manhattan Beach approves new bike route signs, buts holds off on sharrows over fears that they make bike riders “more assertive about occupying road space.” In other words, they’re worried about those uppity bike riders wanting to ride exactly where the markers on the road say they’re supposed to ride.

 

State

San Diego won’t be changing their sidewalk policies, even after a man was awarded $4.85 million when he was severely injured riding his bike on a tree-damaged sidewalk the city had known about, but failed to fix. Sound familiar?

Over 1,000 bicycles have been stolen in San Diego this year.

A Los Altos writer offers five rules to live by as a cyclist. Although he says not to ride three abreast, even though it’s perfectly legal on non-sharable lanes, as long as you stay within a single lane; however, you should always allow drivers to pass when it’s safe to do so.

San Francisco advocates discuss the status of Vision Zero in the city.

The North Bay Area’s new SMART trains are dealing with an unexpected crush of passengers boarding with bicycles. Which shows who the smart ones really are.

Someone please tell the Mountain View city council that removing a crosswalk is not a safety improvement.

Sacramento’s mayor tries out a new three-day pop-up parking protected bike lane.

 

National

A lifelong roadie turns to dirt jumping at the age of 44, as Bicycling asks if it’s too late him to catch big air. Easy answer: If you’re not dead, it’s not too late.

New York’s Citi Bike bikeshare reaches its 50 millionth ride.

 

International

A UK writer says it’s time to modernize the country’s traffic laws, but adding offenses for bicyclists is not the place to start.

A British cyclist urges others to get trained in CPR; he was revived after his heart had stopped for 30 minutes while riding.

A London journalist captured a month’s worth of close calls on his bike cam to show how dangerous riding in there can be.

 

Finally…

Who says you can’t eat or drink on a bike? If you’re a convicted felon illegally carrying a handgun on the spokes of your bike, put a damn light on it — the bike, that is, not the gun.

And if you’re riding your bike with two outstanding warrants, don’t use your knife to threaten a driver who honks at you. Or a hatchet.

Or better yet, just don’t. Period.

 

LA-style cyclist anti-harassment laws continue to spread, but there’s a catch; plus your Morning Links

Oakland is the latest city to consider an LA-style bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance.

However, there’s a hidden problem with these kind of ordinances, as LA bike lawyer Josh Cohen recently pointed out.

LA’s law, and most, if not all, of the similar ordinances that have followed throughout California, allow the court to award lawyer’s fees if you win your case, as an inducement for attorneys to take cases that might not otherwise be worth their time.

The problem is, lawyers usually collect their fees from insurance companies when they win a case. But insurers don’t pay for intentional acts. And the whole point of the anti-harassment ordinance is to punish drivers for their intentional actions in harassing riders.

Which, by definition, lets the driver’s insurance company off the hook for any damages, including attorney’s fees.

So unless the driver who harasses you has a major bank account or significant assets that can be converted into cash, it may be difficult to find an attorney to take your case. Which is no knock on lawyers; while some may take a case pro bono when they can, they still need to pay the bills like anyone else.

And that means lower income drivers could have carte blanche to threaten you on your bike with little fear of any consequences.

The short term solution is to act as your own attorney in small claims court; Cohen says he’s working on an online tool kit that that will teach riders how to build a case and guide them through the legal process.

A longer term solution is to pass a statewide version of the anti-harassment ordinance, so enforcement no longer depends on invisible city limit lines. An offense that occurs in Santa Monica or San Gabriel is just as offensive as one that takes place in Los Angeles, and the offender should face the same consequences.

And while we’re at it, let’s change the law to require insurance companies to pay for all adverse traffic acts, intentional or not.

Maybe when they face the costs for the threatening actions of the drivers they insure, they’ll actually do something about it.

And maybe get some of these jerks off the road once and for all.

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Streetsblog’s Damien Newton takes an in-depth look at the proposal to increase the sales tax to fix LA’s streets and some, but not all, sidewalks.

While virtually everyone benefits from better streets — bike riders not the least — there needs to be a firm commitment to build out the bike plan as streets are repaved and striped, rather than the vague promises we’ve been offered so far.

And since everyone walks, there should be at least as much commitment to fix every broken sidewalk as there is to repave failed streets.

The question is whether Angelenos will swallow yet another sales tax increase that places the burden of street repair on everyone, whether or not they use them.

Or whether they contribute to the disrepair of our streets by rolling massively oversized multi-ton and highly destructive vehicles over them.

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LA City Councilmember Mike Bonin hosts a free Fireside Chat on Transportation: The 405, Traffic, Transit, Biking & More on Friday, April 11th. That’s one I’d like to attend.

LADOT and City Planning are hosting a webinar on Year Two of the bike plan rollout (pdf) on Thursday, April 17th from 7 to 8 pm

Frequent contributor Erik Griswold looks at the city that bans play; yes, that would be our very own LA.

Flying Pigeon says the bike infrastructure infection is spreading. Meanwhile, those new green bike lanes in Santa Monica may be nice, but they’re not what cyclists were promised, and there’s still more work to do. Not the least of which is figuring out what to do with the city’s airport, which may be best done by bike.

Now this sounds like fun, as a planned May ride will visit the murals of Northeast Los Angeles.

LA students call for fixing San Fernando Road, including bike lanes and better sidewalks.

How Sweet Ride USA’s Steve Isaacs went from musician to creating a unique mash-up of bikes and deserts.

Mark your calendar for California Bike Advocacy Day on May 21st.

A Riverside hit-and-run driver gets nine months for leaving a seriously injured bike rider to bleed in the street. More than a slap on the wrist, but hardly what the crime deserves.

This is why you always carry ID when you ride. Oakland police were trying to identify a man who was critically injured in a solo fall when he went over the handlebars; fortunately, the 80-year old rider was eventually identified. Your loved ones deserve to know where you are and what happened if you’re too injured to speak for yourself, and you deserve to have them by your side.

Can protected bike lanes push bicycling into the mainstream? If they can’t, maybe the rise of the combination bike shop/bar can.

A new team-based East Coast track cycling league is set to roll out next year.

My hometown is nominated as one of the nation’s top 10 bicycling cities; needless to say, Los Angeles isn’t, and neither are leading local candidates Long Beach and Santa Monica. Wait, what the hell is Malibu doing on the list?

Fargo cyclists may be afraid to use a new bike lane because motorists certainly aren’t.

Eighty-two-year old Omaha driver opts to kill the person on two wheels rather than collide with the vehicle stopped ahead of her.

Nothing stops Minneapolis bicyclists from riding, even in the dead of winter. Same with most LA riders, as long as it’s at least 70 degrees out.

More proof that hit-and-run isn’t just an LA problem, as a Pennsylvania Amish buggy driver hit an SUV twice before trotting sedately from the scene.

He still doesn’t get it. The Aussie cab passenger who doored a cyclist refuses responsibility, but does admit to acting like a jerk afterwards. And Melbourne’s top bike cop says the city’s patchwork bike lanes give riders a false sense of security.

Finally, chances are, you’ve already seen this one by now. But if not, you definitely need to, as a cyclist is hit by a mattress carried by a passing truck — which miraculously flips under him and cushions his fall, saving him from serious injury. Thanks to Michael Eisenberg for the heads-up.

And it’s been over a century. So where’s my flying bicycle, already?

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